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Red Sox minor league roundup: Chris Martin, the next Daniel Nava story?; the unstoppable Mookie Betts; Dan Butler, big leaguer-to-be; Madison Younginer re-emerges 09.09.13 at 12:49 pm ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox farm system on Sunday, which yielded a pair of playoff wins:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 3-0 WIN VS. ROCHESTER (TWINS); WIN BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES, 3-2, TO ADVANCE TO GOVERNOR’S CUP FINALS

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— Right-hander Chris Martin inherited a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the sixth inning, and managed to work out of it in the game’s pivotal sequence and then added another pair of scoreless innings in what proved the game’s most pivotal stretch. Martin punched out Chris Parmalee and then negotiated a flyout by Aaron Hicks, both former first-rounders who played in the majors at times in 2013.

Martin went on to fire two additional no-hit innings, finishing the day with 4 1/3 innings in which his only blemish was one walk. He struck out two.

The 27-year-old Martin does not fit the traditional profile of a relief prospect, but that is because he doesn’t really fit any profile of a professional baseball player. Drafted both out of high school by the Tigers (27th round) in 2004 and again after his freshman year at McLellan (Texas) Community College by the Rockies (21st round) in 2005, he declined to sign both times, but then shoulder woes — which required surgery — as a sophomore appeared to effectively end his career. Martin went five years without pitching.

But he decided to play in a local league, and discovered that, with restored health, he was in a different league than the players he was competing against, and so he went the indy league route and signed with Grand Prairie in 2010. He dominated, resulting in an invite to try out for the Red Sox. Martin did so and made a formidable impression, given his 6-foot-7 frame and ability to dial up a mid-90s fastball. The Sox gave him a chance, and three years into his pro career, Martin has made the most of it, showing the ability to get swings and misses with his fastball and slider while pounding the strike zone. Last fall, he tightened his slider in the Arizona Fall League and the result has been stretches of considerable dominance this year.

Including his 4 1/3 scoreless innings in the playoffs, Martin has a 2.93 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 11 walks in 55 1/3 innings since his early-season promotion to Pawtucket from Double-A Portland, where he dominated (21 scoreless innings, 27 strikeouts and 6 walks) at the start of the year. He’s closing out the year in dominant fashion in Triple-A, with a run of 15 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings (and counting) for the PawSox, with 14 strikeouts and just two walks in the run.

The right-hander has put himself in position to go from obscurity to an improbable part of the Red Sox’ big league relief depth equation. Because he doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 draft until after the 2014 season, he hasn’t been in such a position yet, but as next season unfolds, Martin may well get his opportunity to follow in the footsteps of fellow former indy leaguer Daniel Nava with an improbable story of odds-defying success.

(Martin’s story was first explored at some length by Even Lepler in this excellent writeup.) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: chris martin, Dan Butler, madison younginer, Mike Augliera
Red Sox minor league roundup: Clay Buchholz ‘absolutely’ ready; Mookie Betts AFL-bound; Sean Coyle seeking health; Chris Martin, Matt Price strike out everyone 09.06.13 at 11:04 am ET
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A brief look at the action in the Red Sox system on Thursday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 7-2 WIN AT ROCHESTER (TWINS) IN GAME 2 OF BEST-OF-FIVE SERIES; SERIES TIED, 1-1

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Clay Buchholz declared himself “absolutely” ready for a return to the big leagues after allowing two runs in 3 2/3 innings while striking out five and walking two on Thursday. Courtesy of Hudson Belinsky, here’s the pitch-by-pitch breakdown of his outing, which included nine swings and misses among his 71 pitches (52 strikes).

Catcher Christian Vazquez got the start, collecting his first Triple-A hit while going 1-for-3 with an RBI single and sac fly.

— Center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. had his second straight multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with a double and a walk. The extra-base hit was his 40th in 82 Triple-A contests this year, with him getting a multi-base knock in 12.2 percent of his at-bats and 10.5 percent of his plate appearances — up slightly from rates of 11.9 percent of at-bats and 9.6 percent of plate appearances a year ago. Meanwhile, the walk snapped a streak of 10 straight games without a free pass.

Bryce Brentz, for the second straight year, is offering an impressive show of power in the Triple-A playoffs. He went 1-for-4 with a double on Thursday, driving a fastball to the opposite field in right, and is now 3-for-8 with two doubles and a homer in the first two games of the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: chris martin, Clay Buchholz, matt price, mookie betts
Red Sox minor league roundup: No platoon needed for Jackie Bradley Jr.; Mario Alcantara turns heads in Lowell; Travis Shaw heating up 06.20.13 at 11:02 am ET
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A brief look at Wednesday’s action in the Red Sox farm system, on a day when first-half standout Garin Cecchini learned that he has been promoted to Double-A Portland:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 6-5 WIN (10 INNINGS) AT COLUMBUS (INDIANS)

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— While Jackie Bradley Jr. has fallen into slumps on a couple of occasions while in Triple-A Pawtucket this year, he’s shown the ability to not just climb but instead to leap out of any holes in which he’s found himself at that level. The 23-year-old endured four straight hitless games from June 14-17, but after going 1-for-4 with a homer and walk on Tuesday, he continued his rebound by going 3-for-5 with a double and walk on Wednesday. In 29 games with the PawSox, Bradley has three three-hit games and 12 multi-hit games.

On the year, Bradley is hitting .310/.412/.500 in Pawtucket. Perhaps most impressively, his double against lefty Clay Rapada continued his string of outstanding performances against lefties. The left-handed Bradley is hitting .346/.433/.577 against lefties, marks that exceed his already solid numbers against righties (.300/.406/.478).

— News flash: Alex Hassan struck out. For the first time in four games (and 13 plate appearances) since rejoining Triple-A Pawtucket, the 25-year-old whiffed. Still, he continued his strong performance since resuming play, going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a walk while playing right field. In four games back with Pawtucket after a strong rehab assignment in Single-A Greenville, Hassan is now 6-for-12 with four doubles and a homer. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: alex hassan, anthony ranaudo, chris martin, christian vazquez
Red Sox minor league roundup: Reassessing Allen Webster’s big league readiness; Blake Swihart injured; Mookie Betts dazzles 05.20.13 at 12:18 pm ET
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This isn’t the same Allen Webster who opened eyes in spring training.

The right-hander currently in Triple-A Pawtucket bears some important similarities to the pitcher who showed off-the-charts stuff down in the Grapefruit League. His stuff verges on unhittable at times, as when he allowed one hit (a single) and permitted just two balls out of the infield in five innings on Sunday while punching out seven and getting swings and misses on 15 of his 92 offerings. Certainly, his 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings and .158 opponents’ batting average along with a 2.40 ERA are eye-openers. The pitch mix is electric.

But whereas his improved command in spring training — highlighted by a 14-to-1 strikeout-to-walk rate — was one of the biggest show stoppers in camp, Webster’s command has regressed recently in Pawtucket.

Sunday underscored the trend. Webster was filthy out of the gate, retiring the first 11 batters he faced in order. However, he then allowed five of the next six batters he faced to reach, walking four of them in the process and missing the strike zone badly with a number of pitches. As a result, on a day when he had incredible stuff, Webster managed to work just five innings while throwing 92 pitches (48 for strikes — just 52 percent).

He’s now walked nine batters in his last 10 innings. In 30 innings in Triple-A this year, he’s walked 15 batters, a rate of 4.5 per nine innings. As much as the 23-year-old’s extraordinary stuff and ability to get both swings and misses and tons of grounders creates general enthusiasm about his big league future, the fact that he has dominant major league stuff does not necessarily mean he’s major league ready. After all, with his current command and pitch efficiency issues, Webster confronts some of the same issues that have been areas of concern for left-hander Felix Doubront. In eight starts this year between Triple-A and the majors, he’s worked more than five innings just twice.

The temptation when seeing a remarkable talent such as Webster is to focus on his ceiling. But it will take time before he is capable of scraping it.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 11-3 WIN VS. INDIANAPOLIS (PIRATES) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, austin maddox, blake swihart, chris martin
Garin Cecchini, Anthony Ranaudo among Red Sox’ April minor league award winners 05.09.13 at 8:33 pm ET
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The Red Sox announced their Minor League Players of the Month for April. The envelope:

Hitter: Garin Cecchini, 22 (High-A Salem) — .392/.478/.709 with 15 extra-base hits, 13 RBIs

Starting pitcher: Anthony Ranaudo, 23 (Double-A Portland) — 3-0, 0.83 ERA, 26 strikeouts, 5 walks, 21 2/3 IP, .159 opponents’ batting average

Reliever: Chris Martin, 26 (Double-A Portland) — 8 games, 15 1/3 innings, 0.00 ERA, 19 strikeouts, 5 walks, .140 opponents’ batting average. A note on Martin: Though he’s ready to move up and compete in Triple-A, the promotion of Jose De La Torre to the big leagues will not result in his graduating to Pawtucket, since the PawSox staff had 13 pitchers (and a shortage of innings to distribute) prior to De La Torre’s addition to the Sox’ big league roster.

Defensive: Catcher Christian Vazquez, 22 (Double-A Portland) — 11 caught stealing in 16 games

Baserunner: Center fielder Shannon Wilkerson, 24 (Double-A Portland) — .222/.260/.344 with 13 runs, 2 SB, 1 CS in 21 games

Base stealer: Cecchini, 10 for 13 in SB attempts (worth noting — Deven Marraro was 5-for-5 in steal attempts before his hamstring injury put him on the DL)

Read More: anthony ranaudo, chris martin, christian vazquez, garin cecchini
Red Sox minor league roundup: Reins loosening on Rubby De La Rosa; Ks pile up for Brandon Workman; Jackie Bradley Jr. sidelined 05.06.13 at 1:01 pm ET
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A brief look at Sunday’s action in the Red Sox farm system:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 2-1 LOSS VS. DURHAM (RAYS)

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— A quartet of Rays pitchers, led by seven innings from pitching prospect Jake Odorizzi, combined to throw the first nine-inning no-hitter against the PawSox since 1994, when right-hander Jose Lima went the distance in doing so.

— Right-hander Rubby De La Rosa, who’d been subject to an approximate 50-pitch limit through the first month of the season, will have the reins loosen a little bit starting with his Monday outing against the Gwinnett Braves. According to the Pawtucket Times, De La Rosa will be permitted to throw around 70-75 pitches.

The Sox created workload restrictions on the 24-year-old in deference to the fact that a) this is his first healthy full season since undergoing Tommy John surgery in August 2011 and b) he’s never thrown more than 110 innings in a season in his pro career.

Still, after De La Rosa tossed three scoreless innings in each of his last two starts — most notably, a three-inning, five-strikeout, one-walk effort in his last turn of the rotation — the Sox felt it was time to start to get the young right-hander stretched out.

‘€œUltimately you want to protect his arm because of the surgery he had,’€ PawSox manager Gary DiSarcina told the Times. ‘€œRubby’€™s going to tell us when it’€™s time to stretch him out and he’€™s been telling us with his performance over the last outing or two. Sooner or later, you’€™ve got to release the reins.’€

In five starts, De La Rosa has a 7.11 ERA with 13 strikeouts and eight walks in 12 2/3 innings.

— Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 0-for-2 but drew a pair of walks, extending his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 17 to start the year. The 25-year-old has 12 walks and nine strikeouts as part of a .317/.429/.500 line.

— Left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith, in his first appearance since tossing four scoreless innings on April 30, made his eighth straight scoreless appearance, tossing a clean inning in which he got three groundball outs. He has a 0.52 ERA in 17 1/3 innings this year, and lefties are 2-for-22 (.091) against him.

— Outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., who sat out of the last two games, could land on the seven-day DL due to a biceps injury. In 11 Triple-A games, Bradley is hitting .302/.400/.349. He’d been restricted to DH duties in recent days.

Jose Iglesias was removed in the fourth inning of Saturday’s game due to what manager Gary DiSarcina described to reporters as a “manager’s decision,” the same term applied by DiSarcina on Sunday to explain why the 23-year-old shortstop was not in the PawSox lineup. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: blake swihart, Brandon Workman, chris martin, francellis montas
Red Sox minor league roundup: As Felix Doubront falters, Allen Webster dominates; epic homer for Xander Bogaerts; Garin Cecchini, hottest hitter in minors? 05.04.13 at 7:46 am ET
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On a day where Felix Doubront struggled badly in the big leagues and showed diminished velocity that manager John Farrell acknowledged to be “a little bit of a concern,” it was difficult to overlook what was happening in Triple-A.

Right-hander Allen Webster had a season-high nine strikeouts while giving up just one run on two hits and no walks in six innings. It was his seventh career outing with nine or more punchouts, his first above Double-A. Webster now has 26 strikeouts (11.7 per nine innings) and six walks (2.7 per nine) in 20 Triple-A innings this year, continuing to cement the impression that he’s implemented a couple of adjustments successfully to allow him to attack the strike zone with relative efficiency — a trait that eluded Doubront on Friday night, and that indeed has eluded him for much of his time in a big league rotation.

On his 94 pitches on Friday night, Webster got 16 swings and misses, with plenty evidently in the tank at the end. Webster struck out the side in his sixth and final frame (requiring just 12 pitches to do so), and he allowed baserunners in just one of six innings he pitched. The fact that he’s pitching on Doubront’s day in the rotation suggests that it would be straightforward to slot the young right-hander into the big leagues should the “little bit of concern” about the left-hander warrant a spell on the sidelines.

Here’s a look at Webster’s nine strikeouts:

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TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX:4-1 WIN VS. DURHAM (RAYS)

(BOX) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: allen webster, austin maddox, brandon jacobs, brian johnson
Red Sox minor league roundup: Matt Barnes struggles again; Bryce Brentz shows discipline; Kolbrin Vitek getting squeezed? 04.27.13 at 1:41 pm ET
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Right-hander Matt Barnes gave up a career-high 11 hits, six of them for extra bases (5 doubles, 1 triple) and matched a career high by yielding six earned runs in 4 2/3 innings for Double-A Portland on Friday. In 14 innings this year, Barnes has shown power stuff — as evidenced by his 17 strikeouts in 14 innings, and his 13 swings and misses out of 83 pitches on Friday (16 percent) — but he’s also seemingly struggled with location and execution.

On Friday, he showed plenty of arm strength (sitting at 92 mph, up to 95) with good action on his curveball and changeup, but struggled to command the secondary offerings for strikes and to keep his fastball down in the zone. The result was an ugly line, something that has characterized three of Barnes’ four outings to date this year. He’s given up 14 runs in his 14 innings, with opponents owning a .387/.449/.581 line against him.

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Portland manager Kevin Boles will join Down on the Farm on Sunday to discuss Michael Almanzar‘s emergence as a late-blooming prospect as a 22-year-old in Double-A. He’ll also discuss a number of interesting prospects in Double-A Portland. To listen, tune into WEEI from 8:30-9 a.m. on Sunday, or listen to the complete interview at weei.com/podcast.

A look at what happened elsewhere in the system:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-4 LOSS AT BUFFALO (BLUE JAYS)

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— Right-hander Joel Hanrahan velocity (94-97 mph) but struggled with his location in an innings of work, giving up a double and two-run homer. He struck out one and threw nine of 14 pitches for strikes. He’s slated for another rehab outing on Sunday.

— Outfielder Bryce Brentz went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk while driving in a run. A notoriously aggressive hitter throughout much of his career, Brentz has undergone an interesting change of course in the season’s first week. Through 11 games, he’d walked just once while striking out a dozen times. In eight subsequent games, he’s walked six times with six strikeouts. In those eight games, he’s 7-for-26 (.269) with a .406 OBP and three extra-base hits (a double, triple and homer).

— For the first time as a professional, Jackie Bradley Jr. had a three-strikeout game. He went 0-for-5. He started in right field, a position where he could see action in the big leagues in the not-too-distant future depending on the duration for which Shane Victorino is sidelined. The soonest that Bradley could be called back up without a Red Sox player landing on the disabled list would be Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, bryce brentz, chris martin, Dan Butler
Red Sox minor league roundup: Jackie Bradley Jr. bounces back, more offense from Jose Iglesias, Michael Almanzar’s run continues 04.23.13 at 11:39 am ET
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A quick look at the action in the Red Sox minor league system on Monday:

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 8-2 WIN AT ROCHESTER (TWINS)

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— Perhaps it was as simple as Jackie Bradley Jr. needing a couple of days to get his feet under him after being sent down to Triple-A. After a 1-for-8 start in his first two contests with Pawtucket, Bradley offered a reminder of why he opened the year in the big leagues in the first place. He went 3-for-4 — a single to right, a single to left, a double to left — and received an intentional walk in five trips to the plate. It still wasn’t quite vintage Bradley — not including the intentional walk, he saw just 10 pitches in the other five plate appearances — but the fact that he had his timing and was making hard contact after not doing so for his final weeks in the big leagues was noteworthy.

It was Bradley’s 10th career three-hit game and the 11th time that he’s reached base four or more times in a game.

Ryan Lavarnway went 2-for-5 with a double, and for the fifth straight game, he did not strike out. In 11 games this year, he has seven walks and seven strikeouts, with the frequency of his walk rate and ability to put the ball in play reflected in a solid early batting average (.310) and OBP (.423).

Jose Iglesias went 3-for-4 with a pair of singles to center and one to right, a season high for hits. It was his second multi-hit game since being sent to Pawtucket. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: brandon jacobs, chris martin, christian vazquez, deven marrero
Red Sox minor league roundup: Anthony Ranaudo’s reintroduction; Sean-o-Meter in High-A; an improbably diminutive home run hitter 04.10.13 at 11:31 am ET
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Last year, Anthony Ranaudo‘s season was derailed before it ever had a chance to get under way. The huge 6-foot-7 right-hander looked dominant for much of spring training, but then a groin injury near the end of camp delayed the start of his season and left his mechanics out of whack when he finally got on the mound for Double-A Portland.

Scouts who saw him were left to scratch their heads and wonder what had happened to someone with the reputation of a power pitcher. He sometimes struggled to get his fastball over 90 mph, and his command was erratic. The groin injury and then a subsequent shoulder impingement combined to yield what proved, essentially, a lost season for the right-hander. He made nine starts of dubious distinction in Double-A in 2012 en route to a 1-3 mark and 6.69 ERA before he was shut down for the year due to his shoulder issues on July 3.

That unhappy chapter in the prospect’s career may now be closed. In his 2013 unveiling, Ranaudo looked like the kind of pitcher who wasn’t seen a year ago in Portland. He tossed five innings (something he did in just four of his nine starts last year) while allowing one run (matching his 2012 best) on five hits (four singles and a double) while striking out six (a Double-A best) and walking just one. His fastball was around 93-95 mph throughout the night — better velocity than at any point last year — and his command of the pitch allowed him to overpower Reading’s lineup.

He pitched with the sort of confidence that he rarely possessed last year, something made evident by his willingness to pump strikes (48 of 71 pitches, 68 percent) throughout the night. He elicited 12 swings and misses. He was, in short, a different pitcher, more closely resembling the one who as recently as last March ranked as the top Red Sox pitching prospect than the right-hander who could not find a way out of the depths in 2012.

Ranaudo is still just 23, so even though he’s repeating Double-A, it’s still an age-appropriate level for him. If he can sustain the stuff that he showed both in late spring and in his first regular season start, there’s still time for him to re-establish himself as one of the more prominent pitching prospects in a Red Sox system that appears deeper in arms than it’s been at any point in recent years.

TRIPLE-A PAWTUCKET RED SOX: 5-1 WIN AT LEHIGH VALLEY

(BOX) Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: anthony ranaudo, brandon jacobs, brandon snyder, chris martin
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